Compassion and anger go together. There is no real compassion unless you are angry at God or chance and other people for letting the bad thing happen. Who do you prefer? The anti-God who serves the leper colony out of a desire to defy God and out of hatred of what is happening to the lepers? The Christian who adores God's will but who works hard but less hard for they are not driven by rage? What does the atheist do? The atheist can personify nature and still rage against what is happening. Feelings don't always have to be rational! The good is often the enemy of the best. It is always a potential enemy that is for sure. If the atheist is not being better than Mother Teresa then that is a tragedy but is not the fault of atheism but the fault of the individual.

To say that everything happens for a reason amounts to saying that people in that other country who starve would either only live to suffer so they are better off dead or turn into barbarians and start killing everybody around them. The nasty possibilities are endless. Only a God can know what people are likely to do so this one is implicitly religious. It implies there is a worthwhile benefit to their suffering and death.  Believers impose a meaning. An atheist can impose a reason on it too somehow.  Perhaps, "Maybe it is best they are dead for the alternative could be worse."  That is disgusting for you should only consider how bad it is.  You don't want to think that.  If you do then if you are a believer you are doing that in a stronger way for you think God only lets things happen for the best.   It is double the vice!

Christians may agree with atheists that a God allowing evil to happen as as bad as one commanding it to happen (also allowing can be your way of making sure something happens - it does not mean you are not deliberately evil) but they say the answer is how God turns evil into good or finds good in it and makes the good grow and eliminate the evil. So allowing evil is good if you are working against it! But if evil is evil it does not matter what happens to it. It should not happen period.


Evil. It is bad by itself and bad for us.

Consider how evil impacts us.

Consider evil as evil in itself.

Consider how evil impacts the innocent person who suffers.

The priority is helping the person’s suffering not God. You should prioritise helping the person instead of caring if evil is evil in itself.

A baby suffers terribly and nobody can imagine what it is like for that baby.

The believer says God is with the baby and lovingly taking care of that baby.

That is a theory or assumption.

What if you can do nothing to help? You are saying God is there to help when you or anybody else cannot and that he does help. You are saying that as long as people do their best, they need not worry for God will do what they simply cannot do. Is God giving that child medicine or something? No. So how dare you say the child is being helped!

And being unable to help does not mean you must stop totally being against the suffering of the child. Belief in God requires you to just leave the child to God. That is extremism in principle. There is a lot to worry about if a person refuses to deplore the suffering of a child just because nothing more can be done. That is turning the empathy off. An atheist has no right to do that and the believer has no right either. Belief in God demands it. Atheism does not demand it.

The suffering and aloneness of the child is a bare fact.

It is not a matter for theory.

Thus turning it into a theory about God's caring action is terrible.

That is using the child to derive your faith and the faith of others and to sustain it.

The child is used as a means to an end. The suffering of the child is used as a means to an end too.

Evidence is better than theory but even it is always not enough. You need proof when it is a child's suffering we are talking about.


Because the suffering has to be taken seriously and you must not risk suggesting the child is being help if he is not being helped. You cannot dismiss how it looks. Empathy needs to be allowed to flow unhindered.

Because the reason is that humanity is biased.

Because the reason is that humanity mistakes their own ideas for God's and even God, as far as humanity is concerned, is made up of human ideas.

Because the reason is that if humanity is right about God it does not follow that humanity cares about being right.

Because the reason is that if humanity is right about God it could be down to luck.

Because the reason is that faith is not going to help the baby but it may help those who are left behind and it may help you.

Because the reason is that it is not about your faith or anybody else's - there is a baby!

How does the so-called problem of good come into all this?

Is to try to see the good in the suffering, to make out that it is more good than bad for the child? Yes - if evil is misplaced good then it is more good than bad.

Is it more important for good to be good or to be recognisable as good?

To be good. That means you must not let yourself be horrified by what you see.

Conclusion: Atheism is majestic in principle and should be based on the utmost compassion. It is better to promote atheism even if people will not live up to it. If they don't that is not atheism's fault but theirs. Faith in God is disgusting in what it says about suffering that is untreatable.

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Edited by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2007

No Copyright